c) Allegation of selling Boyz on the
Hood T-shirts and OIG findings
MPD "Boyz on the Hood" T-shirt
Hayward contended that Boyz on the Hood T-shirts were offered for sale by officers from the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C. [ / Hayward alleged they were for sale in 1991. We are not certain in which year they were offered but have confirmed that they were sold at the Roundup. ] An attendee who had purchased one of these shirts at a Roundup gave it to us. It shows
several officers, including a black officer, with two suspects of unknown race, face down across a police car hood. [ / While "Metropolitan Police" is captioned at the top of the photograph on the shirt, the officers and the police car shown on the shirt are from Prince George's County, Maryland. And while the race of the "suspects" is not discernible, based on the title of the shirt, some inferred that they were black. ] Many police equipment catalogues apparently include these types of shirts. [ / We also obtained a similar shirt with a drawing of three officers, one white male, one black male, and one female, with two suspects who appear to be white on the hood of a car. The license plate of the car in the drawing reads, "Cobb Co." It was distributed by officers from Georgia. ] We showed this shirt to a cross-section of whites and blacks. Most interviewees, including blacks, many of whom were in law enforcement or attended Roundups as guests of law enforcement officers, saw it as a pro-police message of arresting "thugs," rather than as an anti-black theme. Others who had no prior exposure to the Roundup or contact with law enforcement were more likely to view the shirt as racially insensitive based on their views of the movie "Boyz N the Hood" and their belief that the shirts glorified police brutality generally directed against black suspects.
Cobb Co. "Boyz on the Hood" T-shirt
It is unclear whether the T-shirt described by Hayward is the same type of Boyz on the Hood T-shirt for sale at the Roundup. Nor is it certain that Hayward is correct that attendees were selling such T-shirts at the 1991 event. At least two versions of these shirts were offered for sale at some Roundups around this time. The broad spectrum of witnesses' reactions to these shirts, however, raises questions as to whether the impression left in the July 11 Washington Times article that dissemination of such T-shirts necessarily intends to convey a racist message is in fact correct. In this sense, the law enforcement officers who were interviewed by OIG may not reflect the public-at-large's perception of these shirts.